4/09/2012 by Julia Churchill · No Comments
The Greenhouse Literary Agency ran a competition earlier this year inviting new children's authors to bring the funny. Greenhouse uber-agent Julia Churchill talks about how the prize came about and what got her excited about it.
I had the idea for the Greenhouse Funny Prize when I was having a chat with an editor and she mentioned this great sounding young and funny series that she was offering on, and desperate to acquire. I grumped to myself, I never see young and funny submissions. No point in sitting around and waiting, so I thought I'd start a prize. I called up The York Festival of Writing and asked if they would sponsor with a prize ticket to their writing conference, and they did.
Then I called up Leah Thaxton, publisher and famous funny talent-spotter (Thaxton bought and edited Andy Stanton and his Mr Gum series with Egmont), and asked if she would co-judge, and she did. The prize was starting to take shape!
Over the course of the next few weeks we had over 700 entries. Once deadline rolled around I whittled that 700 down to a long-list of 70, and Leah and I had a week to read and find our ten favourites.
I look for concept, voice, character and story. And if those elements are there, the script jumps out and kisses you on the nose. For the really great scripts there is a recognition when you read them for the first time. You think, this feels familiar and yet I know it's totally original. That's gold, and what I was crossing my fingers for.
Judging day was exciting. We each had our scripts in a pile and we sat in Nomad Books with coffee and biscuits and for three hours we pitched our favourites back and forth, talking through what made them stand out. Very few surprises, actually. We pretty much agreed on everything. We both found that with one or two scripts we didn't have that extra passion to push through. And we both saw a script with new eyes and enthusiasm through the other person's excitement.
Our winner was a young series called Squishy McFluff - about a little girl and her naughty invisible cat. It's in perfect rhyme with jokes that will make you laugh and keep you smiling. It was what I'd started the prize to find. And the shortlisted scripts were brilliant, I'm certain we will be hearing from some of those writers in the near future.
Judging the prize was a great, and interesting, experience. I was anxious when it began, the prize was an offer of representation by me, so what if I didn't love anything?! The opposite is, thankfully, true and I've found so much to love and work with. I can't wait to do it all again in 2013.
If you're writing funny, keep an eye on my twitter. I'll be announcing the new prize early next year!